Feb 5, 2015

My response to a FB posting praising "American Sniper"

The posting:    Chris Kyle was right. We were fighting a "savage, despicable evil" in Iraq and we still are http://t.co/Jz9b5wtvIC via @WSJ

My response:   The reduction of the Iraq debacle into a great battle between good and evil which ignores all of the terrible background of the illegal US invasion and regional mess we have created just plays into the whole eternal war propaganda machine, which in turn drives the 600 billion dollar (conservatively) engine of fear and misallocation of human potential which poses as national defense. Chris Kyle is a victim like the rest of troops who signed up for this war under false pretenses, and the citizenry of a country which has been utterly destroyed. What is your point? You want to convince everyone that this was all a just cause and we are just put in the unfortunate position of being the good guys who have to go around the world sniping the bad guys? Its failed [poster] - decades of this approach has just brought chaos and ruin. Time for something bold and different, and Chris Kyle is not it.

Oct 3, 2014

Officials decline to take stance on Algonquin pipeline

[Well, 3 out of 4 officials anyway...]


Despite a spirited and well-informed request from a group of Lewisboro women asking the Town Board to pass a resolution that would require much more stringent environmental assessment of plans by Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC to expand compressor stations and a gas pipeline and infrastructure operations around the tri-state region, including Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam counties, officials gave a thumbs down.

After hearing from Lewisboro residents Lisa Silver, Jennifer Lahey and Elizabeth Meyer-Gross on Monday night, Town Board members said the activities were not within the town of Lewisboro and therefore not a matter for a Town Board resolution.

Speaking to The Ledger on Tuesday, Deputy Supervisor Peter DeLucia, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Town Supervisor Peter Parsons, said the Town Board traditionally has not taken stances on issues outside the town of Lewisboro.

“We work on things that affect us directly,” he said. “In addition, we had just received the resolution presented Monday night and found it very lengthy and somewhat adversarial in tone.”

Officials agreed with Mr. DeLucia, saying the matter had already received attention from New York state and they believed the state was handling it properly.

Requests for a resolution

Lisa Silver, who said she lives only a few miles from the proposed gas pipeline, said the entire project was increasing in size and scope and was ultimately connected to the fracking industry in Pennsylvania.

Jennifer Lahey said: “We are talking about fracking and if this happens it will impact our community. Whether or not it goes directly through our town it will still impact us. The number of gas pipelines in the area is growing into an intricate web and much better oversight is needed.”“The draft Environmental Impact Statement for this is incomplete in several areas,” she said. “We urge the Town Board to join with other nearby towns to get a comprehensive and transparent EIS in advance of the issuance of a building permit. We need strong health and safety protections from this dangerous project.”

Elizabeth Meyer-Gross asked board members to show solidarity with the several other towns in northeastern Westchester that have passed resolutions asking for more stringent review of the project.

“Towns have been ruined by the gas industry,” she said. “Let’s find out how this could harm us and attempt to get restrictions. Right now we need a better environmental study.”

Town Board member Dan Welsh said he believed the technology proposed for the project was basically outdated and “there is always the possibility of a blow-down from the pipeline. None of this is being developed in a vacuum. Once done, it will involve fracking. The pipeline will drive additional production and I agree more scrutiny is needed.”

The resolution was put on the floor, but did not get a second.

Mr. Welsh later asked for a simple statement of support for a better Environmental Impact Statement but the group demurred.

[end article]

My further comments in the Ledger online

A this stage in the game, we know very well that the overall investment effectiveness is much higher for efficiency measures, and clearly renewables are the correct path for energy development. We see big carbon projects like this because a) its big and centralized and so project developers and financiers can make their money up front, and b) the costs to society - safety, pollution, climate change are externalized - the investor foists them off on the rest of us, and especially future generations and the less fortunate, out of sight and mind of Westchesterites.

Our commercial, legal playing field fails to account for these failings. In our area, Sustainable Westchester is working on programs such as Community Choice aggregation which are designed to help make up for these. In the meantime, public pressure is a legitimate tool to help influence the discussion.

Apr 8, 2013

This by an Icelandic Parliamentarian, Birgitta Jonsdottir - artist, activist etc. and amongst many other things (and why I took notice) is trying to publicize the persecution of Bradley Manning.

The FooLpoeM
I might be colorful
and I might paint the air
with mystical words.

I might get you to smile
from the bottom of your heart.

I might fall in love
with everything I lay my eyes upon
simply because my love
has no tags
it just is.

I might dance in the shadow of knowing
I might dance until I drop
but you see I am the fool of fools
as old as the soil
as young as the unborn
never seeking
just being
until I am no more
only my humble shadows
that I have created
to tail me into infinity.


Nov 11, 2012

Letter: Time To Work

Now that the elections are over, let's get to work. Here's a simple to-do list for all levels.

Federal: Get out of Afghanistan ASAP and stop bombing people all over the world with drones. We are not safer for this, and the immense dollars draining away must be directed to constructive programs and human needs. Oh yeah, and add 2% to the top marginal tax rate.

State: The most useful thing they could do for us would be to initiate a migration from property-based taxation to income tax for our local funding. Property taxes are tearing up our communities as retirees cannot bear the same level of taxation as they could when they were working. Besides this, Albany could put some serious effort on energy/green jobs. Germany is 6.1% solar now as a result of raising the price paid for kilowatts generated by individual solar installations. In the U.S. solar is less than 0.1% of electric generation. New York could make those same changes and reduce our exposure to fossil fuel risks.

Town: We should pave the roads. We cut paving from the budget for years now, and the roads are deteriorating. It will take an average of maybe $100 added to your tax bill to restore it, and there should be a return on that investment in car wear and tear, safety, and possibly mortgage taxes as crumbling roads are not a big seller.

Simple initiatives; ask your government officials where they stand.

Dan Welsh
Town Board Member
Nov. 11

Sep 27, 2012

Further Evidence That Global Warming's Getting Worse: Pollution, Disease & Planetary Food Riots Are Coming

Alarmist? Whatever! The world desperately needs some leadership from the USA. Not leadership in the form of pre-emptive military incursions and arming of "friendlies" to spread democracy, but leadership in the form of not shirking our responsibilities as the number one contributor to global warming and the terrible consequences set out (once again) in this report:

Further Evidence That Global Warming's Getting Worse: Pollution, Disease & Planetary Food Riots Are Coming
By Charles P. Pierce
at 2:20PM

Another day, another report about a huge international crisis about which neither of our political parties is prepared to do squat:

More than 100 million people will die and global economic growth will be cut by 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change, a report commissioned by 20 governments said on Wednesday.

Read more: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/global-warming-death-report-13098594#ixzz27flsobA1

Jul 21, 2012

Ledger Letter: Chemicals and cancer

Letter: Chemicals and cancer

The last few decades have seen an explosion in cancer. Normally, I would want to back a statement like that with some authoritative statistics. No need — everybody has friends and relatives who have been stricken.
It's all around us — the bracelets, the various benefit events, ads for Cancer Treatment Centers of America on prime-time TV. A tremendous amount of money goes to research to find a cure. That's good — for those dealing with the disease, progress can't come soon enough.

But we rarely talk about the causes. The simple reality is that this is the result of the cornucopia of synthetic compounds we have introduced into the environment. It can't be genetic — changes to entire populations don't happen that fast. We are swimming in a sea of chemicals that our body was not designed to handle, an estimated 80,000, 232 of which were found in the umbilical cords of babies in five states in one study.

So yes, we need to find a cure, but as is the case with many undesirable results, if you really want to get at this, it is more effective to move upstream and stop the new cases before they ever get in the pipeline. Look for organizations doing targeted, impactful work like "Cans, not cancer" (Google it), which is pushing to get BPA out of food cans. Eat fresh, basic foods. Eliminate plastics, fragrances and noxious chemicals at home. Read "What's Gotten Into Us" (Jenkins) and support local sustainability efforts.

Dan Welsh
South Salem, July 14

Jan 16, 2012

MLK Sustainability Quote (?)

I fear MLK is going to become like the Bible, or Adam Smith, or Mao -- you can find snippets to justify anything. If I take a sound-bite from the MLK archive and point it at the challenge of sustainability though, I hope the Karmic powers of social justice will not find fault. Here's the quote:
"The fact is that everybody in this country lives on welfare. Suburbia was built with federally subsidized credit, and the highways which take our white brothers out to the suburbs were built by federal money."

The message is equality and racial barriers, but generically, the point could be "there are hidden subsidies everywhere, and many of them amount to "perverse incentives". These are subsidies that work in opposition to societal goals. The highway subsidy exacerbated the economic disenfranchisement of minorities, but it also created our one and a half hour commutes, and, in tandem with the mortgage deduction (another subsidy), the excess of square footage that is contributing to our energy hangover. The cheap crap that I can buy because some workers somewhere, that have no power to negotiate or other job options, are paid next-to-nothing, is also subsidized, and so I buy more of it. Corporate subsidies are in the news every day now. The "free market" is an artificial construct; things are always skewed. So lets not freak out if somebody suggests we should tweak things a bit to encourage people to act in ways that increase our chances of survival. We created sprawl, and our huge footprint. We are obliged to fix it. The good news is that we can be creating sustainable, livable communities at the same time.